As com­pu­ting and elec­tro­nic hard­ware beco­me more sophisti­ca­ted, the com­ple­xi­ties and cos­ts of soft­ware deve­lo­p­ment will con­ti­nue to beco­me har­der to con­trol. The on-going rapid evo­lu­ti­on of hard­ware capa­ci­ties and capa­bi­li­ties pres­ents a dou­ble edged sword for soft­ware app­li­ca­ti­ons. Hard­ware advan­ce­ments boost per­for­mance and func­tio­n­a­li­ty, but also mul­ti­ply com­ple­xi­ties. This leads to expan­ded soft­ware requi­re­ments that in turn can add expen­se and fra­gi­li­ty to the sys­tem development.

Doub­ling pro­ces­sor through­put or memo­ry capa­ci­ty may lead to only a slight incre­a­se in the cost of the hard­ware, but alte­ring the soft­ware so that you can take advan­ta­ge of the incre­a­sed capa­ci­ty can ele­va­te the cos­ts tre­men­dous­ly. Addi­tio­nal­ly, if the tech­no­lo­gy that was used to crea­te the soft­ware doesn’t sca­le well, the soft­ware app­li­ca­ti­ons will be error pro­ne and dif­fi­cult to maintain.

Through soft­ware moder­niz­a­ti­on, the soft­ware sys­tems can bene­fit from the migra­ti­on of lega­cy approa­ches to more cur­rent and modern approa­ches. If it is con­duc­ted suc­cess­ful­ly, soft­ware moder­niz­a­ti­on makes sure that soft­ware engi­nee­ring is able to keep pace with the ongo­ing deve­lo­p­ment of hard­ware capabilities.

Approa­ches Towards Soft­ware Modernization

Soft­ware moder­niz­a­ti­on can imply dif­fe­rent things in dif­fe­rent cir­cum­s­tan­ces. In some situa­tions, it’s desi­ra­ble to retain a well-desi­gned and suc­cess­ful lega­cy app­li­ca­ti­on, while impro­ving its func­tio­n­a­li­ty by inte­gra­ting new com­pon­ents. In other cases, it is best to trans­form the exis­ting sys­tem that was writ­ten in an older lan­guage, run­ning on an older hard­ware, to a more COTS (com­mer­cial off-the-shelf) friend­ly plat­form and language.

Over­all, the­re are 4 dif­fe­rent approa­ches towards soft­ware moder­niz­a­ti­on, and depen­ding on the enter­pri­se requi­re­ments, one or a com­bi­na­ti­on of the fol­lowing 4 can be selected:

1. Upgrade — The tech­no­lo­gies and lan­guages used in the old-lega­cy sys­tems can be upgraded to the grea­test and latest versions.

2. Repla­ce­ment — The core-com­plex rigid soft­ware or tech­no­lo­gy used in the lega­cy app­li­ca­ti­ons is first iden­ti­fied and then repla­ced with a bet­ter ver­si­on of the same or equi­va­lent tech­no­lo­gy. The repla­ce­ment can be as uncom­pli­ca­ted as repla­cing the lega­cy data­ba­se or backend sys­tem with modern tech­no­lo­gies, such as SQL (Struc­tu­red Que­ry Lan­guage) or Ora­cle at the top line, or repla­cing the sta­tic-user screen in the bot­tom line to a user-friend­ly interface.

3. Rede­sign — The core frame­work of the sys­tem is retai­ned, with the front-end and midd­le­wa­re being rede­si­gned and deve­lo­ped using the grea­test and latest ver­si­on of a recent tech­no­lo­gy, as a result giving the app­li­ca­ti­on a new feel and look and impro­ving its performance.

4. Migra­ti­on — The who­le lega­cy app­li­ca­ti­on (inclu­ding its core frame­work) is migra­ted to a SOA (ser­vice-ori­en­ted archi­tec­tu­re) or Web 2.0 enab­led app­li­ca­ti­on. This approach invol­ves iden­ti­fy­ing the software/technology that is sui­ta­ble for the busi­ness pro­cess, archi­tec­ting and designing, deve­lo­ping, tes­ting and imple­men­ta­ti­on. A good migra­ti­on plan should weigh the tech­ni­cal and pro­gram­ma­tic dri­vers for sys­tem deve­lo­p­ment against the prio­ri­ties of the customers.

In order to pre­vent repea­ting mista­kes from the past, it’s desi­ra­ble to upgrade not just the spe­ci­fic app­li­ca­ti­on, but the who­le thin­king behind the deve­lo­p­ment of soft­ware. By doing this, the deve­lo­p­ment pro­cess of new com­pon­ents of the lega­cy app­li­ca­ti­ons or new app­li­ca­ti­ons will beco­me more pro­duc­ti­ve, error inci­den­ces will be redu­ced, and the reu­se and sca­la­bi­li­ty of the soft­ware will be heightened.